This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.
The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.
Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, "Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it.
Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes.
He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the LORD. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.' "
Jeremiah said, "The word of the LORD came to me:
Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, 'Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.'
"Then, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.' "I knew that this was the word of the LORD;
so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver.
I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales.
I took the deed of purchase--the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy--
and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.
"In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions:
'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time.
For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.'
"After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD:
"Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents' sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD Almighty,
great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all; you reward everyone according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.
You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, both in Israel and among all nations, and have gained the renown that is still yours.
You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.
You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.
They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them.
"See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see.
And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign LORD, say to me, 'Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.' "
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
"I am the LORD, the God of the whole human race. Is anything too hard for me?
Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who will capture it.
The Babylonians who are attacking this city will come in and set it on fire; they will burn it down, along with the houses where the people aroused my anger by burning incense on the roofs to Baal and by pouring out drink offerings to other gods.
"The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; indeed, the people of Israel have done nothing but arouse my anger with what their hands have made, declares the LORD.
From the day it was built until now, this city has so aroused my anger and wrath that I must remove it from my sight.
The people of Israel and Judah have provoked me by all the evil they have done--they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem.
They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline.
They set up their vile images in the house that bears my Name and defiled it.
They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded--nor did it enter my mind--that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
"You are saying about this city, 'By the sword, famine and plague it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon'; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety.
They will be my people, and I will be their God.
I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them.
I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.
I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.
"This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.
Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, 'It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.'
Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD."
While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time:
"This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it--the LORD is his name:
'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'
For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword
in the fight with the Babylonians: 'They will be filled with the dead bodies of the people I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness.
" 'Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.
I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.
Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'
"This is what the LORD says: 'You say about this place, "It is a desolate waste, without people or animals." Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more
the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, "Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever." For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,' says the LORD.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In this place, desolate and without people or animals--in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks.
In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,' says the LORD.
" 'The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.
" 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'
For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,
nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.' "
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
"This is what the LORD says: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time,
then my covenant with David my servant--and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me--can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne.
I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.' "
The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
"Have you not noticed that these people are saying, 'The LORD has rejected the two kingdoms he chose'? So they despise my people and no longer regard them as a nation.
This is what the LORD says: 'If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth,
then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.' "
While Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms and peoples in the empire he ruled were fighting against Jerusalem and all its surrounding towns, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, 'This is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down.
You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands. You will see the king of Babylon with your own eyes, and he will speak with you face to face. And you will go to Babylon.
" 'Yet hear the LORD's promise to you, Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what the LORD says concerning you: You will not die by the sword;
you will die peacefully. As people made a funeral fire in honor of your ancestors, the former kings who preceded you, so they will make a fire in your honor and lament, "Alas, master!" I myself make this promise, declares the LORD.' "
Then Jeremiah the prophet told all this to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem,
while the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah that were still holding out--Lachish and Azekah. These were the only fortified cities left in Judah.
The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves.
Everyone was to free their Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold another Jew in bondage.
So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free.
But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:
"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said,
'Every seventh year each of you must free any other Hebrews who have sold themselves to you. After they have served you six years, you must let them go free.' Your ancestors, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me.
Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to your own people. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.
But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.
"Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the LORD--'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.
The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf,
I will deliver into the hands of their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.
"I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials into the hands of their enemies who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you.
I am going to give the order, declares the LORD, and I will bring them back to this city. They will fight against it, take it and burn it down. And I will lay waste the towns of Judah so no one can live there."